Research

Exploring the Frontiers of Visual Identity Design as Envisioned by Science Fiction

Original Entry 08.04.2019

Off-world

Category

Slavery, Space Settlement

Scenario Date

YEAR 2019

The Off-world colonies are corporate-owned space settlements on other planets, for which millions of people have abandoned their overpopulated and polluted homeworld, Earth.

As the airborne billboard ads say, “A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure.”

Run by the Shimago-Domínguez Corporation, the colonies are largely built, maintained and secured by genetically engineered Replicant slave laborers and soldiers. Meanwhile, the Off-world is marketed to Earth's remaining human inhabitants as a safe and prosperous alternative to life on a dying planet, where upon arrival, the corporation will gift the new colonist a Replicant slave of their own, to use as they see fit.

Identity Designed by

Entertainment Effects Group

Source

  • Black Out 2022 (2017 animated film)
  • Blade Runner (1982 film)

Overview: Off-world Identity


Intro and Usage

The year is 2019, and due to the overpopulation and pollution of Earth, millions of people in Blade Runner’s bleak future have left the planet for the Off-world colonies.

From the film’s intro, we know that Replicants are “used Off-world as slave labor, in the hazardous exploration and colonization of other planets.” But aside from that we don’t learn much more about the colonies, outside of advertisements from the Shimago-Domínguez Corporation, that paint them as being a much brighter place than Earth. Seen on giant video billboards mounted to the sides of massive blimps (Figure 1.1), these ads blare their messaging into the streets below.

"A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure. New climate, recreational facilities, easy advancement, great pay. Plus, a loyal trouble-free companion, given to you upon arrival, absolutely free. Use your new friend as a personal body servant or a tireless field hand. The custom tailored genetically engineered humanoid replicant — designed especially for your needs. So, come on America! Let's put our team up there. Give this country another chance. Let's go to the colonies!

This announcement has been brought to you by Shimago-Domínguez Corporation. Helping America into the new world.”

We hear and see fragments of this ad throughout the film. For the whole thing, we’ll need to reference a video showing off the replica Blade Runner blimp that was built by Adam Savage and model-maker Kayte Sabicer. I’m not sure where they got the ad footage, but Savage claims that they used the original video files from the film. The color seems off, but otherwise it appears to be accurate.

As it plays, the bright yellow Off-world logo flashes onto the blimp’s screen (Figure 1.2), overlaying a sprawling nighttime cityscape, with its glowing streets receding into a hazy magenta horizon. Planets, like blue marbles, fly by and off screen. “OFF-WORLD” then appears in blue, and holds while yellow text touting the Off-world colonies’ benefits and amenities roll by overhead. Things like ALL NEW and LIVE CLEAN. After the last of these, text that reads “Brought to you by Shimago-Domínguez” appears (Figure 1.3), and the ad ends. It's curious that at no time do they actually show the Off-world colonies. And of course, they don't mention that your slaves might rebel and kill you.

Beyond these advertisements that appear on the blimps, we also find the Off-world logotype on flashing illuminated signage around the city, mounted to the sides of buildings. The mark is eye-catching in yellow, against the dark backdrops of these placements.

I'll also note that a blimp playing the Off-world ad is seen in the anime short Black Out 2022, which can be viewed on YouTube. We see the blimp briefly as the EMP takes out the electrical grid, where it loses control and crashes into a massive video billboard on the side of a skyscraper (Figure 1.4).

<p><strong>Figure 1.1</strong> An image from the film, showing the Off-world colonies as advertised on a massive blimp.</p>

Figure 1.1 An image from the film, showing the Off-world colonies as advertised on a massive blimp.

<p><strong>Figure 1.2</strong> In their replica prop, Adam Savage and Kayte Sabicer have used original video footage of the ad, offering a view of it in its entirety, with clearer details. Source: Adam Savage’s Tested, YouTube</p>

Figure 1.2 In their replica prop, Adam Savage and Kayte Sabicer have used original video footage of the ad, offering a view of it in its entirety, with clearer details. Source: Adam Savage’s Tested, YouTube

<p><strong>Figure 1.3</strong> The end of the Off-world advertisement, revealing the company that operates the colonies — the Shimago-Domínguez Corporation. Source: Adam Savage’s Tested, YouTube</p>

Figure 1.3 The end of the Off-world advertisement, revealing the company that operates the colonies — the Shimago-Domínguez Corporation. Source: Adam Savage’s Tested, YouTube

<p><strong>Figure 1.4</strong> The Off-world ad as it seen on a blimp in the anime short, just prior to the blackout event of 2022. Source: <em>Black Out 2022</em></p>

Figure 1.4 The Off-world ad as it seen on a blimp in the anime short, just prior to the blackout event of 2022. Source: Black Out 2022


Usage: The Blimp Ad

<p><strong>Figure 2.1</strong> The Off-world logotype as it appeared on the illuminated billboards attached to the advertising blimps. Source: Douglas Trumball</p>

Figure 2.1 The Off-world logotype as it appeared on the illuminated billboards attached to the advertising blimps. Source: Douglas Trumball

<p><strong>Figure 2.2</strong> A look at the Off-world advertisement typography in context, as it appeared on the blimp’s billboards. Source: <em>Blade Runner: The Inside Story</em></p>

Figure 2.2 A look at the Off-world advertisement typography in context, as it appeared on the blimp’s billboards. Source: Blade Runner: The Inside Story


Usage: Building Signage

<p><strong>Figure 3.1</strong> Early in the film, we see the Off-world logo on illuminated building signage, that flashes from bright yellow to light blue.</p>

Figure 3.1 Early in the film, we see the Off-world logo on illuminated building signage, that flashes from bright yellow to light blue.

<p><strong>Figure 3.2</strong> On the left, we get a closer look at the Off-world logo signage, as the camera tracks Deckard and Gaff's ascent in the Police Spinner.</p>

Figure 3.2 On the left, we get a closer look at the Off-world logo signage, as the camera tracks Deckard and Gaff's ascent in the Police Spinner.


Design Analysis

Looking at the one-color logotype’s construction, we have a rectangular frame with rounded corners, with uppercase OFF and WORLD stacked within. Right away, OFF hits you with the most impact, practically yelling at you to leave planet Earth. Then, with the way the R in WORLD extends through the frame, it kind of beckons you to approach the mark, calling to mind a ramp extending from a spacecraft. I’d like to think they chose yellow as a play off of the way they describe the Off-world colonies as a place of “golden” opportunity. If anything, it is a color associated with energy and optimism. Overall, the mark is bold and attention-grabbing, with futuristic styling that isn’t over the top.

Regarding the futuristic type, I was unable to identify a specific typeface that was used without modification. The closest I could find was a face called Yagi Universal 1, which would be a good starting point for custom lettering. According to Fonts in Use, the Yagi family was released on Robert Trogman’s FotoStar label in the late 1960s to early ’70s, so it predates the film’s production. As it is though, the D and O from Yagi are too round. The R is off quite a bit.

In the pages of the official Blade Runner Souvenir Magazine, I found a good rendering of the Off-world logotype, which I based my vector approximation on. Below it, there is a blurb advertising “36% LOAN” in what appears to be the same type treatment. So it’s still very possible this is all based on an actual typeface I’ve yet to discover. But again, the numbers look a lot like Yagi.

Interestingly, in the blimp ad when Off-world appears in blue and the yellow benefits roll by, they use a different type treatment. One that is less rounded, chopping the corners and terminals of letterforms at angles. In all of the type specimens and books I have on hand, I couldn’t find anything remotely close to it, that predated when the film was made. So it may be completely custom. The only identifiable typeface from the blimp ad is Eurostile Extended Bold, where it is used for the “Brought to you by Shimago-Domínguez” message.

Regarding the identity's designer, credit is unconfirmed, but may belong to Douglas Trumbull’s Entertainment Effects Group. It was EEG that was responsible for the blimp's construction, and they may have created the video billboard graphics as well.

<p><strong>Figure 4.1</strong> A vector approximation of the Off-world logotype as it appeared on illuminated billboards and signage.</p>

Figure 4.1 A vector approximation of the Off-world logotype as it appeared on illuminated billboards and signage.

<p><strong>Figure 4.2</strong> Type specimen for Yagi Universal, which is a close match for letterforms that appear in the Off-world logotype. Source: <em>Fonts in Use</em></p>

Figure 4.2 Type specimen for Yagi Universal, which is a close match for letterforms that appear in the Off-world logotype. Source: Fonts in Use

<p><strong>Figure 4.3</strong> The best rendering of the Off-world logotype I could find, from an official <em>Blade Runner</em> source — in the pages of the <em>Blade Runner Souvenir Magazine</em>, published in 1982.</p>

Figure 4.3 The best rendering of the Off-world logotype I could find, from an official Blade Runner source — in the pages of the Blade Runner Souvenir Magazine, published in 1982.


The Off-world Identity on Blade Runner Merchandise

In addition to its appearance in the film, the Off-world identity also appeared in official Blade Runner merchandise. As a member of the Blade Runner Fan Club (Figure 4.1), you would receive an “Off-world Loan Certificate” that featured the logotype.

Note: If anyone reading this possesses that certificate, it would be amazing to receive a high quality photo or scan, that could be shared in the downloadable resources for this entry.

<p><strong>Figure 5.1</strong> An advertisement and order form for the Blade Runner Fan Club, where you could get an “Off-World Loan Certificate” as part of the membership. Source: <em>Blade Runner Souvenir Magazine</em></p>

Figure 5.1 An advertisement and order form for the Blade Runner Fan Club, where you could get an “Off-World Loan Certificate” as part of the membership. Source: Blade Runner Souvenir Magazine